Monday, November 23rd, 2020 by Jo Borger
Technology changes fast. Twenty years ago, only a handful of adults had a mobile phone – but two decades on the digital time spectrum is equivalent to the Jurassic age and modern-day. Trying to explain dialup to a pre-teen will elicit the same wild-eyed bewilderment as “a stegosaurus was as big as this house”.
So, that leaves parents in 2020 with a conundrum: when do I give my child their first phone? Is it a question of them reaching a certain age, or is it a case of them showing a level of maturity? We can’t go off what our parents did because two tin cans connected by a string isn’t really the same.
Like most aspects of parenting, there are no hard-and-fast rules for when a child is ready for the responsibility of a mobile – but that doesn’t mean you’re without help. We’ve scouted the web to bring you a step-by-step manual for solving this digital dilemma.
Step 1: Is your child ready?
Understanding when a child is ready for a mobile phone is a mix of factors, including your child’s level of responsibility and whether their friends have got one. Raising Children Australia is a great resource for working out whether your child should have a phone, offering thought-provoking prompts like:
Step 2: Understand the pros and cons
Step 3: Talking to your child
If you’ve decided your child could use a mobile phone, it’s important to think about how you can help them use it responsibly. Sit down with them and set rules about usage, like how much time they are allowed for social media each day and when they need to put their phone away. Again, Raising Children Australia has a useful article on just what responsible mobile phone use is – we recommend you give it a read.
Step 4: Choosing the right first phone
Best mobiles for kids: Our handset recommendations
$89 from JB Hi-Fi
Why it’s good: Are you nostalgic, because we are. This little pocket rocket retro mobile allows kids to talk, text, play snake… and that’s about it. While it can connect to the internet, the experience is understandably basic, which may be ideal for younger children.
$179 from JB Hi-Fi
Why it’s good: Flip phones still exist – who knew! The Opel Smartflip is slim and affordable, with big buttons and just the right amount of internet capability (popular messaging platform WhatsApp comes pre-installed). It’s durable, too – so you don’t have to worry about it being damaged easily.
$199 from JB Hi-Fi
Why it’s good: A great starter smartphone with a good quality rear camera and long battery life. While the hue of a handset doesn’t impact on its function, we have no doubt that it’s beautiful blue colour will bring a big smile to a small face.
$299 from JB Hi-Fi
Why it’s good: The perfect mobile for aspiring musos, with wireless Moto Buds included in the box. It’s also water repellent (a.k.a worry-proof) and has been described as “a good all-round Android budget phone” by Finder.
$599 from Google Store
Why it’s good: Google have a great reputation in the smartphone market and, looking at the Google Pixel 4a, it’s not hard to see why. Small, light and packed with all the latest features – including Google Assistant – this phone has everything a teen needs.
$599 from Samsung
Why it’s good: Creative kids will love the quad camera, which shoots smooth and steady just like the pros (minus the price tag of top-tier gear). As the world’s no.1 bestselling Android smartphone, you know you are getting a good deal.